Elsie’s Holy Grail Skincare Routine

Hi! It’s been a while since I shared my skincare faves and a few things have changed. This past year, I’ve been more religious about my skincare, but I’ve also become more consistent with the products I use. You’ve probably heard people say it’s not good constantly to be bringing new products and ingredients in. So even though I LOVE to try out new products, I’ve been sticking closer to my favorites and it’s been really good for my skin.

Here are some of my tried and true favorites. These are items I’ve purchased over and over and/or have used for years. My skin type is combination, but I would say leans toward dry—especially in the winter. I’m 37 and am trying to embrace the natural aging process. For me, staying super hydrated (with products, extra water and less coffee/alcohol) is making a positive difference.

One more note: While I do use a few conventional makeup products, I stick more closely to only clean products for skincare. For me, I’ve noticed far better results using clean products and it gives me peace of mind to know I’m cleaning all the questionable ingredients off every night and sleeping in ingredients that will nurture my skin. So, if I had to choose between swapping to natural skincare OR makeup, I would swap the skincare first.

Masks: I do a face mask at least one time per week, but up to three times. I focus mainly on moisturizing masks with a bit of exfoliating, but I am careful not to overdo it. I stay away from anything that dries my skin, so clay masks are not for me.

Leahlani Mermaid Mask I have used this for years and repurchased it over and over. With a base of honey, it is ultra moisturizing and filled with superfood ingredients. I typically put this on 30 minutes before I take a shower or bath and it’s my go-to when I am feeling dry. For sure my most used mask.

Boscia Cactus Water Peel Off Mask I LOVE these peel off masks. I tend to stick with this one, the pink mask and the sake bright white mask. The peel off is super fun and they are hydrating.

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask This is my go-to mask to sleep in. It’s also good for flights (or anywhere you might wear it in public) because it looks like lotion, not a “scary” mask. Haha.

Biossance Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial I love this mask because it’s not harsh at all, but good for a light exfoliation during these winter months.

Bite Beauty Agave+ Nighttime Lip Therapy This is the most glorious super-thick lip mask. I sleep with it every night because I struggle with chapped lips pretty often. I got some for my sister and she didn’t like it because it’s so thick, so make sure you want something super thick. For something lighter, I recommend Weleda Skin Food Lip Butter.

Cleanser + Toner: 

Honest Beauty Gentle Gel Cleanser When removing makeup, I often do a double cleanse by first rubbing oil all over my face. Any carrier oil (jojoba, coconut, argan, etc.) works for this step. It doesn’t have to be labeled as a “cleansing oil.” Next, I rinse the oil off with a warm washcloth. After that, I cleanse with this water-based cleanser. On days I don’t wear makeup, I skip the oil step and go straight for the water-based gel cleanser.

Thayers Facial Toner I use this after I cleanse, before oils and serums everyday.

Acid + Oils: 

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 I use a couple drops of this every night before oils or serums.

Herbivore Prism Exfoliating Glow Serum Like I said above, I try to be very gentle with what exfoliators I use. This is perfect for my skin! I use it before bed either with an oil or by itself. This is one of my top must-haves for glowly skin.
*I love the gel mask version or Prism as well! These are definitely my favorite Herbivore products.

Herbivore Emerald This is a hemp-based oil. It’s super moisturizing and one of my favorite oils currently, but I will say you have to be OK with a cannabis scent. If you’re not OK with that scent, I’d recommend one of their other oils.

Serum: 

Skin Pharm Youth Serum This is incredible for helping my skin feel plump. I use it anytime I am feeling a bit dehydrated (in addition to chugging water and herbal tea).

Backuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum I’m avoiding retinols (or keep them super minimal) because they can be harsh. That said, I still want a potent serum. This serum has a thin gel-like texture, so I use it anytime if I don’t want to go to bed slathered in oils. It is super moisturizing and gentle.

100% Pure Multi-Vitamin PM Facial Oil This is my oil-based serum. I love to go to bed with a super shiny face (aka a glazed donut face—lol), but since I wear eyelash extensions (oil causes them to fall out) I stay away from my eye area and don’t use this when my extensions are first filled each month. Swapping back and forth on my night serum has worked out pretty well for me!

Mist: 

Youth To The People Adaptogen Mist I am obsessed with this mist. I use it when I wake up, before and after makeup, before bed, and all over my body after a shower. If my skin is every looking dry, I mist this on. I’ve used three bottles in the past six months—that’s how crazy I am about this mist. Haha.

Other items I missed in the photo, but use ALL the time:

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen We go through a ton of this in our home—it’s a little pricey so I stock up every time I see a sale. I also use their makeup primer and finishing powder.

Weleda Skin Food Lotion I love that they carry this at Target. I use it as my hand lotion and body lotion. It’s perfect if you have dry skin—it’s VERY thick. I sent my grandma some (she wanted to try clean beauty!!!) and she hates it. So I guess it’s a matter of taste, but I love it.

Boscia Collagen Eye Mask I got these in a PR mailer recently (they’re brand new so I haven’t used them for long, just tried them out twice) and WOW. These are by far the most effective eye masks I’ve ever tried. They are crazy. My eyes looked so refreshed—I will definitely be repurchasing, but they’re pricey so I’ll be using them only for special occasions.

Other skincare tips

This biggest change I’ve seen in my skin came a few years back when I drastically cut my alcohol, sugar and coffee consumption. I know that is no fun to hear, but it’s amazing what a difference it made for me. I had been using clean products for a few years, but when I made those diet changes I suddenly started to get a lot of compliments and questions about my skin.

There are two skincare treatments I got regularly last year that made a huge difference. They are both non-toxic. I got a lot of microneedling and a couple BBLs at SkinPharm in Nashville (they’re opening in Atlanta soon, too).

Microneedling is a collagen producing treatment. It can be pretty minimal (your face is a bit red) to pretty bloody (I started small and worked up to more intense treatments). I got prp injections with it a few times too, which is a natural treatment made from your own blood also known as “liquid gold.” I know it sounds gross, but it’s pretty much the best thing you can do if you want to work on skin texture issues the natural way.

BBL (or photofacial) is a light therapy that can help reduce sun damage. It was pretty dramatic on me and I definitely recommend it if you have an age spot you’d like to zap away. I’ve done my face, chest and arms and will definitely keep doing it over time. I have quite a bit of sun damage because I went to tanning beds when I was younger—the worst!

Anyway! If you have any questions I am happy to try and answer them! If you’re curious to learn more about clean beauty, see my article, Why Clean Beauty Matters. And remember, I am absolutely NOT trying to shame anyone who uses and loves conventional skincare products. Even just swapping out a few clean items is a great step! Nobody is perfect and no one has perfect skin. xx- Elsie

P.S. Here’s a link to my silk pajama top and shorts.

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • FYI Elsie! The Weleda Skin Food comes in a light version that is a little less thick—it’s my morning + nighttime moisture step during dry Colorado winters!

  • I always appreciate your tone when you share clean beauty products…you manage to hit the balance between “this is what I do and use if you’re curious” and not coming across as judgmental towards anyone who uses conventional products!

    • Thank you! I really do NOT judge… I didn’t switch that long ago and we ALL grew up without this new information. 🙂 XX! Judgement free zone!

  • Hot tip: You can get Supergoop products from the FSA store if you have an FSA account with your insurance. I’ve found this makes it easier for me to pull the trigger on buying them since they tend to be on the pricier side, but I love them so much!

  • Maybe I missed this part—what do you use for a facial moisturizer? The Waleda Skin Food?

  • I am so interested in lash extensions – yours look beautiful! My main question: how are you able to wear a cat eye if you can’t remove it with makeup remover/oil cleanser?

    Thanks so much for your advice and wonderful blog!

  • Such an amazing group of products! My skincare regime is missing a few things as of late (like that mist that sounds just incredible) but I do use The Ordinary’s hyaluronic acid serum every day and I love it so much.

    Deanna

  • Can you break it down like I’m a child? 🤦🏻‍♀️ I’m helpless when it comes to skin care and as I hit late 30’s I am really inspired by your routine. I’m primed for some drastic changes. However, the list is overwhelming to look at. I need a dumbed down simple bullet list that says steps one through 5. I am assuming you don’t use every single product, every single night? Maybe you do….but it would be so helpful if you could at all possibly say, first in AM I do cleanser then moisture then… and so on? Hopefully, that makes sense? Then I grab one product in each category to try.

    Thanks!
    Helpless in Vegas

    • Late thirties and I have only used a cleanser and moisturizer my whole life, but am realizing I need to up my game. I’m not even sure what order to use (serum before oil?)… an “Aging Skin for Dummies” guide would be sooo helpful! 😉

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